Teach Florida, an initiative that advocates for government funding and resources for nonpublic schools, is hailing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after he made a historic move to increase security funding for Jewish institutions. Earlier this week, the governor signed a bill that included $25 million to secure yeshivahs and Jewish day schools, as well as $20 million to fund the new State NSGP (Non-Profit Security Grant) program.
This funding comes amid an unprecedented rise in antisemitism nationwide, with the FBI reporting a 400% increase in antisemitic incidents since the war in Israel began on Oct. 7.
“Now more than ever, this funding is needed to protect our children, our schools, and the continuum of Jewish life here in Florida,” said Dr. Allan Jacob, Chairman of Teach FL, a division of Teach Coalition. “Florida’s Jewish community is heartened by the support it has received from Governor DeSantis and his entire administration during this difficult and uncertain time.”
Key proponents of the bill included Speaker Paul Renner, Rep. Randy Fine, Sen. Alexis Calatayud and DeSantis. The bill was passed without opposition on Nov. 6 and signed by DeSantis on Nov. 13.
“The unanimous support is another testament of this administration’s commitment to Florida’s Jewish community,” said Melissa Glaser, executive director of Teach Florida. “As a result of this legislation, thousands of yeshivahs and Jewish day schools across Florida will be able to better secure their facilities and protect their students.”
This funding also comes thanks to efforts made by community members, leaders and schools, who collectively sent in more than 25,000 letters to legislators since the bill was first proposed on Nov. 2. This work is a part of Teach Coalition’s recently launched security-focused initiative, Project Protect, which has pledged to advocate for $1 billion nationally in security funding in the next year, alongside OU Advocacy.
“With antisemitic threats and incidents on the rise since Oct. 7, the Florida Jewish community needs this funding to ensure that we can continue to educate our children in safety without added financial burden on our schools and families,” said Rabbi Ari Leubitz, head of School, Scheck Hillel Community School. “We are so appreciative of Governor DeSantis and this administration in prioritizing the security of our community at this time.”
Florida’s Jewish community is the third largest in the country, representing 650,000 Jews and more than 100 yeshivahs and Jewish day schools.